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From non-League to Premier League: Players and coaches share experiences

20 Jun 2021
Jordan Pickford, Everton

Jordan Pickford, Jamie Vardy and Dan Burn among those talking about their journey up the football pyramid

The Premier League has a proud tradition of featuring players who have risen to the elite level from the non-league game.

Long-standing investment provided by the Premier League reflects its continued commitment to helping the game at the levels beneath the EFL develop.

Initiatives such as the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF) and the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund (PLFAFF) have consistently helped in this way.

Most recently during the pandemic, 1,000 football clubs across 65 leagues in England and Wales, including women and girls' football, received more than £5m from the Premier League through the Matchday Support Fund, awarded through the FSIF.

See: League supporting economy and wider game during pandemic

The links between Premier League and non-league remain strong, as has the affection for grassroots football of those players, coaches and managers who have experienced life at all levels of the football pyramid.

Over the past few years, we have talked to players about how their valuable experience in non-league football has been on their journey to the Premier League.

From non-league to Premier League

Dan Burn (BHA) - Darlington


Chris Smalling (FUL/MUN) - Maidstone United


Ben Foster (WAT/MUN/BIR/WBA) - Racing Club Warwick


Ben Foster- Tiverton


Sam Clucas (SWA) - Hereford United


Jordan Pickford (SUN/EVE) - Alfreton Town


Craig Shakespeare (LEI) - Telford United


Steve Cook (BOU) - Eastleigh


Jamie Vardy (LEI) - Stocksbridge Park Steels, Halifax Town and Fleetwood Town


Glenn Murray (BHA) - Workington, Barrow and Carlisle


Chris Wilder (SHU) - Alfreton Town, Halifax Town and Oxford United


A non-league to Premier League XI of players


Elsewhere, Sky Sports pundit and former Liverpool FC captain Jamie Carragher visited his local non-league club, Marine FC, to see how Premier League funding through the FSIF has helped them enjoy a brighter future.


FSIF funding has also played a crucial role in the young history of Scarborough Athletic, who have a new stand for their new ground thanks to Premier League funding.

Help in the communities

Premier League funding, via the National League Trust, also helps clubs below the top four divisions of the English football pyramid engage with their local communities.

We looked at three clubs building ties in their local areas thanks to our funding. 

Part 1: Dartford projects reaching people of all ages
Part 2: Notts County and PL Kicks building resilience
Part 3: Wrexham girls thriving with Premier League funding

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